One pair of my own custom footbeds.

Hopefully you’ve already been convinced to see a boot fitter in person. That’s step number one to getting a good fit with your ski boots. So you go in, work with the boot fitter, find a good fit, and then they mention insoles or footbeds. It can be very tempting to try to save money at this point. “$50 for a drop-in? $150 for a custom? No thanks, I’ll take my chances.” But skipping this step can be pretty detrimental to your skiing experience.

Stock footbeds, what you would find in a ski boot that you just bought, do little to nothing to support your feet. They’re thin, flexible, and quite week. You might stick your foot in a boot and think that there’s already enough support, but foot fatigue is amplified over the entire day without proper support. A well-fitting footbed will keep your foot in a neutral position (neither pronated nor supinated), making it easier to initiate and maintain turns. Your feet won’t get tired as fast, or ideally at all, throughout the day.

Footbeds can also help with boot fit. Take off your shoes and socks, sit down and lay your feet flat on the ground about shoulder width apart. Keep a close eye on your feet and stand up. For some people it’s more dramatic, for some it’s less, but feet almost always grow in both width and length. By supporting your arch, feet tend to grow less, meaning you’ll be more comfortable in a better-fitting, smaller boot.

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Both pairs of my custom footbeds, one pair for touring, one pair for alpine skiing.

Along with fit comes pain. Pain in the heel, pain in the ball of your foot, pain in the arch. With proper support, pressure will ideally be evenly spread across your entire foot, reducing any localized pain. Take your ski boots into a boot fitter for help with some pain, and there’s a very good chance they’re going to start by asking you one question: “do you have footbeds in there?”.

So should you go with drop-in or full custom footbeds? Honestly, drop-ins (or trim-to-fits) do enough for plenty of people. They cost much less and just need to be cut down to fit your boots. If a drop-in seems to fit your foot just fine, you can easily go with them. If you’re not so lucky (like me) and your feet are a weirder (my arch is remarkably high), a custom could be pretty beneficial for you.

As always, your best bet is to see a boot fitter. While you may think you’re able to eye it, having someone who knows what they’re doing take a look at your foot will always be better. Heck, I was a boot fitter for a minute, and I still wouldn’t trust myself to pick out footbeds for my own feet.

Both pairs of footbeds in their respective liners.

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